Pope Francis sought to rebuke the world’s wealthiest nations for indulging in a “selfish and boundless thirst” for money” that was ravaging the planet and impoverishing the weak.
In a speech to more than 100 world leaders and diplomats at the United Nations General Assembly, he said that urgent action was required to halt the destruction of the planet.
“In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” he said.
“Either because they are differently abled or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action. Economic and social exclusion is a complete denial of human fraternity and a grave offence against human rights and the environment.”
The Associated Press said the pope was seeking to spur concrete commitments at upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris, and he said the world’s poor hd inherent rights to education and what he has termed the "three L's" — lodging, labour and land.
It said his speech - the fifth by a pope to the UN - was a distillation of his recent teaching document on the environment Praise Be, which has delighted liberals and environmentalists and drawn scorn from big business interests.
By vocalising the beliefs contained in that document, Pope Francis made clear his priorities.
“Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity,” he said.
The pope’s speech kicked off what was likely to be a frenetic day in New York that will take in many sights and sounds. He was due to visit the 9/11 Memorial, East Harlem, Central Park and hold a mass at Madison Square Gardens.
While his visit marked the fifth time a pope has addressed the United Nations, the Vatican flag was raised for the first time just before Francis' arrival.
The General Assembly recently agreed to allow the UN’s two observer states, the Holy See and Palestine, to fly their flags alongside those of the 193 member states.Reuse content